Forget the cold, the ice, the dark, the lost homework. Watch out for bears!
That was the message to families with schoolchildren in northwestern Minnesota's Clearwater County, where a mother bear and cubs were recently spotted near an intersection right in front of Clearbrook-Gonvick School.
The sheriff and local police issued the caution this week on their social media platforms.
The school "is requesting that you do not allow your children to walk to school until further notice," the Sheriff's Office said. "If you do see the bears, for your own safety, keep your distance. A mother bear will defend her cubs even if you mean no harm."
"We DO live in bear country," police said on their Facebook page. "To anyone that has children walking home from school, just ... be aware how close these bears are to the school and talk to your kids about never approaching a baby bear because mama is always close by."
On Thursday, the Sheriff's Office updated its cautionary note, saying that it appears the sow and her cubs have left the area. But it said it "will continue to monitor the areas around the school for the bears."
The area is no stranger to black bears. The Clearbrook-Gonvick School's sports teams are called the Bears.
Law enforcement officers, along with personnel from the state Department of Natural Resources, are keeping an eye out for the bears spotted, as well as others.
According to the DNR, black bears emerge from their dens in late March or early April. Cubs are generally born in January, and weight 5 to 6 pounds by mid-March. They remain with their mothers for about 17 months, hibernating with her their first full winter.